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Preaching Civil Discourse

Doug LaMalfa

It doesn't take much courage to endorse civility. It's kind of like standing four-square in favor of motherhood, fire safety, or other non-controversial matters. Civility is right up there with good hygiene and consideration for others.

But now we have people like Ted Nugent, Kellyanne Conway, and Donald Trump lecturing us on civility, and it's outrageous to hear such hypocrisy from those who have encouraged so much division and hatred.

Republicans started preaching civility after a mentally-ill registered Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire on a group of GOP congressmen as they practiced for an intramural baseball game with their colleagues from the other side of the aisle.

Republicans rushed into print and onto cable news shows to share their orchestrated talking points, making the case that a lack of civility prompted the shooting in our nation's capitol, a shooting that seemed to worry them far more than the much more routine shootings of school children in our nation's schools.

It was clear these calls for civility were meant to divert attention from the fact that we have too many guns, and too much unrestricted access to them. Republicans, in service to the NRA and to gun manufacturers, had just voted to make it easier for the mentally ill to gain access to weapons like the one used to open up on politicians in that D.C. park. They'd far rather lecture us on being civil than actually do anything to reduce our obscene levels of gun violence.

Trump & Co. make daily war on damn near everyone who isn't rich. It's hard to remain civil when people are doing harm so aggressively and lying about it so egregiously.

Meanwhile, Trump & Co. make daily war on damn near everyone who isn't rich. It's hard to remain civil when people are doing harm so aggressively and lying about it so egregiously.

Doug LaMalfa, who represents the district in which I live, recently issued a pious call for unity to his constituents. He was quoted in a Sacramento Bee editorial on the subject of how nice we all should try to be, especially to politicians like him who only "want what's best for this country."

As much as I'd like to share love and good will with everyone, it is hard to make nice with the likes of LaMalfa, McConnell, Ryan, and Trump, all of whom show such disdainful indifference toward the majority of their fellow Americans.

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Call me intolerant and not very nice, but when people put together a sneaky "health care" bill to cut Medicaid for millions who depend on it, when Republicans threaten the very lives of a huge swath of Americans, I get a mite testy.

When people want other people to work full-time for less money than it takes to rent a lousy little apartment (and the current American minimum wage makes renting such an apartment unaffordable for millions of working people) that exhausts my patience.

I become less civil when politicians like Georgia's Karen Handel get elected even after saying: "I don't support a livable wage." I gag when right wingers urge unity even as Trump invites people to the Oval Office who said Hillary Clinton should be shot, or called President Obama "sub-human."

My anger rises when I recall Trump encouraging people at his rallies to "beat the crap" out of anyone who attracted his imperial scorn, or when he hinted darkly at "Second Amendment remedies" for judges who ruled in ways he didn't like.

And I don't remember hypocrites like LaMalfa worrying about civility throughout the eight years of unrelenting racist hatred expressed toward Obama by Trump's birthism, or by an uncivil Republican colleague shouting "you lie" at the elected POTUS from the floor of the House during a presidential State of the Union address.

But this isn't just about Republican hypocrisy. If you helped elect a guy who lies to us daily (as he does), if the party you support attempts to transfer ever more wealth to people who already own most everything (as it does), if you are unconcerned about interference in our elections (as Putin and the Russians clearly did), and if you share Trump's continued assaults on the media and other foundational elements of our system of government (as he so consistently does), then you're running down this country, and when you're running down my country, to quote an old country music classic, you're getting' on the fightin' side of me.

And I'm sorry, friend, but I don't take kindly to that, nor to the minions of the right wing who now want to offer lessons on civility. If you're comfortable with white supremacists, cool with Wall Streeters in charge of tax policy, climate change deniers deciding on energy policies, billionaire religious fundamentalists deciding on school policies, and an exclusive cabal of rich white males determining health care policy for millions of women, children, elderly people and working poor who had no say about it, you're not doing a damn thing to make America great again, and I can't be civil as I witness the mean spiritedness and the harm you're aiding and abetting.

It's an odd quirk of human nature, but people generally forego a polite response when they're being mugged, robbed, beaten, and deceived. When privileged and well-cushioned crooks and cons like LaMalfa and Trump preach civility, they should not be surprised when the victims don't swallow their hypocritical sermons and say "thank you, sir, may I have another."

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill